Manulife aims to continue growth

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 February, 2011, 12:00am

Manulife is looking for ways to diversify its distribution channels through banks and independent agents, and at mainland joint-venture opportunities to continue its strong Asian growth.

Banks account for 21 per cent of Asian sales, and independent agents accounted for 10 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.

The rest came from contracted agents of Manulife.

In Hong Kong, banks and other independent agents accounted for 12 per cent of sales last year.

Manulife wants to boost the contribution from banks and independent agents in Hong Kong to 25 per cent of sales in coming years.

It also plans to increase the number of agents in Hong Kong from 4,600 last year to more than 7,000 in five years.

The size of its regional agency force, which stood at 42,000 at the end of 2010, is expected to double in three to four years.

Robert Cook, senior executive vice-president and general manager of Manulife Asia, said the group would continue to look for joint-venture opportunities on the mainland to become the biggest foreign player in the industry.

Under its joint venture with SinoChem, Manulife is now the No2 foreign player with operating licences in 46 cities.

Michael Huddart, executive vice-president and chief executive of Manulife Hong Kong (pictured), said its qualified foreign institutional investment and yuan investment products were still the most popular.

Last Friday, Manulife reported 56 per cent fourth-quarter growth in Asian insurance sales, reaching US$307 million, compared with the same quarter of 2009.

In Hong Kong, insurance sales reached HK$1.7 billion last year, up 28 per cent over 2009.

Double-digit growth is expected in both Hong Kong and Asia this year.